I have a bit of a thing for operating systems. I know that such interests are considered to be somewhere beyond “Geek” but I just can’t help myself. I’ve enjoyed working with a wide variety of OSs as part of my job (HP-UX, Solaris, Windows, Linux) and I’ve also played around with various flavours of Windows and Linux in my own time.
I’m currently using Mac OS X, of the Leopard variety, and I’m liking it very much. One thing I haven’t done with Leopard as of yet is to have a good look under the hood and see how it ticks. I like these fancy desktops – something many people mistake for the operating system itself – but I also like to understand how it works.
My HP-UX experience at work has allowed me to spend a lot of time tapping away in a terminal checking various processes and making sure that everything is working OK. I’m certainly not a Kernel programmer or anything but it’s interesting to see how all the various parts of an OS fit together.
I’ve used Linux quite a bit at home and at work but it’s been quite a while since I’ve had a play with Solaris. We used to have some older systems that ran on Solaris (version 2 I think) but I’ve not revisited Solaris very much since. I tried OpenSolaris towards the end of the life of my old PC but it wasn’t long before I bought my iMac and the PC was despatched to the Wilds of Oxfordshire. Seeing as I’m currently in a position of possible redundancy I thought it pertinant to expand my working knowledge of Solaris to match that of HP-UX.
We have some very old SparcStations at work but I can’t see them letting me take one home, so I’ve tried something a little different. I’ve installed a wonderful (and free) application on my iMac called VirtualBox so that I can install Solaris as a Virtual Machine. VirtualBox works in pretty much the same was as VMWare Fusion and Parallels but it’s Open Source and free for personal use, unlike its two competitors. It’s currently still in Beta testing but has recently been bought by Sun. It’s not as feature packed as its paid-for alternatives but seems to work well for me.
VirtualBox seems easy enough to use but going by the forums there does seem to be a good few problems. However after a couple of aborted installation attempts I managed to Solaris to install. The first two attempts froze up on me for reasons unknown before I changed to VM size to 10GB, whereupon the installation carried on. It took an hour or so but it eventually installed and allowed me to login.
Compared to most modern operating systems the desktop looks pretty basic, however the Java Desktop still looks a damn site better looking than the CDE I’m used to with HP-UX.
I’m going to be spending my free time over the next couple of week revising for my up-coming interviews and genning-up on Solaris, and perhaps some Unix scripting if I get the time. Sounds like a riot eh? At least I’ll enjoy the learning and benefit from the revision.